Colon cleansing has been around since ancient times, as people believed that intestinal waste “poisons the body.” Colon cleansing has staged a come back in recent years. It is actively promoted as a natural way to enhance well-being. There are four points to know before engaging in this practice.
- Colon irrigation may be harmful, especially if you have a history of gastrointestinal disorders like diverticulitis, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, history of colon surgery, severe hemorrhoids, or kidney or heart disease.
- Colon cleansing practitioners or “hygienists” are not licensed by a scientifically based organization.
- The devices used for the procedure are not approved by the FDA for colon cleansing. Bacterial contamination has been linked to inadequately disinfected or sterilized irrigation practices.
- Side effects of colon cleansing include bowel perforation, heart failure, acute kidney insufficiency, pancreatitis, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Colon cleansing can be performed at home with self-administered kits or at an office by a colon therapist/hygienist. Either way, colon cleansing is performed by lying on a table and a large volume of fluid—up to 60 liters—is introduced into the rectum through one tube while another tube in the rectum gathers the waste.
Be aware of the above risks and the lack of evidence showing benefit.